• From Ruby Slippers to Kermit the Frog: Pop Culture Artifacts at the Smithsonian I’ve been at the Smithsonian for 28 years—I never thought I’d stay that long! The first job I had was as a producer and annotator of recordings. We used to have a very active program of archival recordings that we’d release. I came here to work on a set of American popular songs. I remained with the Division of Performing Arts until it was cast asunder and absorbed by the Museum of American Histor…
  • Signs, Tins, and Other Advertising Antiques How did I get started collecting advertising antiques? My dad was a lecturer and tutor in graphics and art from the 1960s onwards, and was into vintage automobiles and advertising, like vintage signs, pumps, and globes. So I spent the large portion of my childhood going to auto swap meets and antiques fairs, I think it all started from there. The first thing I collected was old bottles. In one …
  • Collecting James Bond, Doctor Who, and The Beatles Ever since I was a child, I wanted to work in the auction business, specifically in the entertainment part. I liked the idea of handling, owning, and being a part of objects that were lynchpins in the history of music, film, or television. To accomplish my goal, I studied film, got an art-history degree, and earned an M.A. in fine-art valuation. I started out as a general auctioneer working with a…
  • The Disappearing Art of Porcelain Signs I liked to collect things even as a child. Things that didn’t cost anything, like different colors of stones. There was something about the advertising that I liked, so in the mid-1970s, I started to pick up porcelain signs. I got heavier and heavier into that, and by the 1980s, I had a fairly substantial collection. As a result of collecting telephone signs, I would run into other advertisin…